Washington Post Leadership Roundtable: What's The Best Approach To Teacher Incentives?

Atlanta is in the middle of an educational crisis with allegations and reports of widespread cheating across the district's school teachers. Now the teachers are forced to choose between resigning or being sent home for good. School districts in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Florida -- to name a few -- are now investigating similar allegations in their own communities. New York City just terminated its performance-based teacher bonus program in light of a report that neither teachers nor students perform better when teacher pay is linked to student achievement.

Amid the national melee, The Washington Post has created a digital roundtable of several experts across the country to discuss their views on what the best approaches are to measure and compensate teachers in the U.S. education system.

Here are snippets from the opinions so far, click through to read their full pieces on The Washington Post.

Want to stop teachers from cheating? A history lesson from corporate America
"I don't think that teachers are cheating this way (by themselves changing answers, or by allowing students to cheat) simply to increase their salaries. After all, if they were truly performing a cost-benefit analysis, they would probably choose another profession--one where the returns for cheating were much higher."
-- Dan Ariely, Duke University behavioral economics professor

Despite cheating scandals, testing and teaching are not at odds
"To be sure, there are lessons to be learned from these jarring incidents, but the existence of cheating says nothing about the merits of testing. Instead, cheating reflects a willingness to lie at children's expense to avoid accountability--an approach I reject entirely. It is also an approach rejected by the vast majority of educators, who would never participate in or excuse cheating."
-- Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

To improve U.S. education, it's time to treat teachers as professionals
"Teachers should be regarded as and behave like professionals. A professional is a certified expert who is afforded prestige and autonomy in return for performing at a high level, which includes making complex and disinterested judgments under conditions of uncertainty. Professionals deserve to live comfortably, but they do not enter the ranks of a profession in order obtain wealth or power; they do it out of a calling to serve."
-- Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor

Teacher cheating, student testing and the great education tradeoff
"The right reaction to the cheating scandals in Atlanta, Washington and elsewhere isn't to declare testing a failure. It is to string up, metaphorically, the worst offenders as a lesson to anyone else who wants to give it a try. It is to spend the money on software and investigations to create a very credible threat that if you do this you'll get caught. And it is to reaffirm, absolutely, our commitment to accountability in education and continuous improvement in the ways we measure success of students, teachers and principals."
-- Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post columnist

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